In this rubric we explore some aspects of money that we think are vitally important. What is money, actually? How does it manage the trick, in one way or another, of representing value, worth? What transforms a bone, a coin, a piece of paper, a password or a fingerprint into an exchangeable surrogate of value? What is money, we have to seriously ask, as an idea?
Money and Material
Money and Time
Money and Power
Money is power, the power to control the work of others. But behind that power – recognized in every bank note, every coin and every entry in a bank account – stands yet another power: states with their monopoly on force guaranteeing the money.
Money and Relationship
Money establishes a relationship between people as buyers and sellers of goods. While everything economic is determined by money, this abstract relationship with money does more than shape people’s social context; it also affects personal relationships to their very core.
Money benchmarks everyone as an individual owner of money, and at the same time it positions the individual within the anonymous universe of all other people as money owners. This abstract reference forms a distinct instance of the “I” in everyone as a conceptually pure form of self. Accordingly the “I” as a psychological entity arose only in the modern era, under the reign of money.
Money as Thought Form
Presentation Eske Bockelmann: "Money as a way of thinking? – It is the key to understanding what money does to us – and what it does to the world.
Money forms people’s thinking by forcing them in various ways to be steered by money. Yet it also imposes certain ways of unconsciously thinking on people. In the modern age, money influences a lot in this way, no less than the natural sciences and philosophy.
Money requires everyone to think of goods as both the respective thing itself and its monetary value, that is, purely quantitatively. This results in a way of thinking which also induces a new way of calculating. Unlike all earlier forms of mathematics, this new form deals with pure numbers, calculating mathematical function.
Money and Exchange
The acts of exchange that people practice, and upon which their societies are originally based, are only turned into barter in the form of buying and selling through money. Thus, in the end, the market dominates every exchange. Besides the market, methods of exchange persist in the form of offerings.
Economies without money – how should that work? We also don’t know. But we do want to think about it. People do things, give each other gifts, share what they have, help each other and contribute to the success of enterprises large and small – without money. They did it earlier and they do it today. And what does the future look like?
The commons movement counters money-mediated provisioning with collective participation in the activities and basic concerns of provisioning such as ownership. The movement’s core conviction is that, to avoid money’s built-in constraints, only the community can decide on its common endeavours.
What the people live from and how they distribute it ought to be organised fundamentally differently than it is with money. And if highly segmented divisions of labour shall persist, a return to older forms of subsistence can be excluded. The extremely elevated capacity of people pressured by money to produce more with less effort and to distribute their products more precisely than ever would doubtless be useful – just organized differently than it is with money.